The sizzle, the smoke, the taste…it’s no wonder 77% of U.S. households own and use a grill. Not to mention the easy clean up, the fact you can grill practically anything and everything, it keeps your kitchen cool and it’s fun. It can also mean burned burgers, undercooked steaks, or tough, dry chops. But with a little patience and a few “tips,” you can become the family/neighborhood grill pro.
When grilling, patience truly is a virtue. Before you ever place whatever you’re cooking on the grill, there are a few tips that will help ensure delicious results.
If grilling with propane, check your gas level before you start grilling. (I know we can’t be the only ones who have run out mid-cooking.) We keep a couple full spare tanks on hand, one for the grill and one for the propane fire pit.
Start with a clean surface. Clean your grill grate before each use (and after.) Right before you place your food on, give your grill grate another good scrape with a wire brush.
Start with a hot grill. Preheat for 10 to 15 minutes.
Let meats come to room temperature before cooking.
WHILE GRILLING –
Don’t overcrowd. Leave about one-third of the grill grate area open.
Use tongs or a spatula when flipping. Stabbing the meat with a fork to flip it over will allow juice to escape. Frequent flipping is the most common reason for fire flame ups, which will burn food.
Use direct and indirect heat as needed. If your food is cooking too fast or flaring up, move it to indirect heat. Direct heat is when the fire is right under the food and indirect is where the fire is off to the side.
If using barbecue sauce or any sugary coating, brush it on during the last part of cooking since the sugars can burn if applied too soon.
LET YOUR MEATS REST FOR AT LEAST 5 MINUTES AFTER GRILLING AND BEFORE CUTTING.
AND A FEW MORE TIPS…
I’m a freak when it comes to cross-contamination, which can make you really sick. We always use a separate set of plates and utensils for raw food and separate sets for cooked foods.
A digital meat thermometer eliminates the guesswork as to if your food has reached the proper temperature. Two affordable instant-read models Consumer Reports (July 2016 issue) recommends are –
ThermoWorks Pocket RT600C ($20) which they say is easy to use and offers fast, consistently accurate readings and auto-shutoff.
Oregon Scientific Wireless BBQ/Oven AW131 ($40) which is designed to be left in the meat while it cooks. It can be read on a smartphone from more than 100 feet way and offers consistent accuracy and features such as a timer, audible alert, and auto-shutoff.
TWO OF MY PERSONAL FAVORITE GRILLING TIPS…
I use a tray or rimmed cookie sheet to carry all my ingredients and tools outside. Less running in and out keeps the bugs out, the pets in, and saves time.
For me, chicken is one of the hardest things to grill. (The outside tends to get done a lot faster than the inside, especially when cooking large breasts.) Now when we cook large breasts or thighs/legs, we bake them about halfway through and then finish them off on the grill. For thinner cuts we cook just on the grill.
ANOTHER REMINDER – I know I already talked about cross-contamination but every summer there are thousands who get sick because of it. Remember to always wash your hands, cutting boards, plates, platters and utensils with hot, soapy water after being exposed to raw meat. Never put cooked foods on a plate that held raw foods or remove cooked foods with a utensil that turned raw foods.
For some excellent “Mastering the Basics” tips, including how to cook specific foods, here is some great information from Weber –